After you finish reading this guide you may want to have a look at our recent article about travel guitars. And if you’re looking to buy an electric guitar make sure to get a delay pedal to make everything sound better or check out our recommended article on acoustic-electric guitars to get the best of both worlds.
This world is full of guitars and now you can also improve your sound with effects pedals so whether you’re looking for an acoustic guitar, an electric one, or if you are a fan of bass effects, you can find a model for as little as $50. Of course, the more expensive the guitar, the better it is. And if you’re looking for unique guitars you will have to pay more than $1,500 for them.
Acoustic guitars for beginners
Beginners shouldn’t pay too much for a guitar because chances are they will move on to another model fast and they will also need other accessories: picks or guitar metronomes like these to learn how to keep a steady rhythm . That is why they should expect to pay between $100 and $500 for an acoustic guitar. This price depends on the materials used, how good the craftsmanship is, the accessories and the manufacturer which, as in the case of trumpets can be a very famous producer like Jean Paul or the ideal instrument for you may be from Yamaha or other well known brand.
If you’re buying very cheap models make sure that they are still made of quality wood like rosewood or spruce. They also need to be comfortable to hold and they should look good. A guitar that looks good is most of the times one that also sounds decent. It’s the same with other string instruments, for example when you choose a violin or an electric uke, the wood and design can be an indicator of the sound. Sometimes you may need to upgrade certain parts of a cheap guitar and these parts may include the saddle, tuning pegs or the nut.
When the guitar is made of better quality wood the price rises. What also makes an acoustic guitar more expensive are higher level tuning gears or multi-layer binding. If your guitar has all of these you can expect to pay around $300 to $500 for it. Chances are that you can find a guitar that has some onboard electronics for that price.
Mid-range acoustic guitars
Moving up the ladder, you will find better guitars in the $500 – $1,500 range. These acoustic guitars have a solid build, quality wood and craftsmanship, but the inexperienced player may not notice the subtle improvements. Most of the times these guitars require more handwork and more attention is paid to them.
There are many electro-acoustic guitars in this range and those that have onboard electronics also offer certain features like equalizers, built-in effects or pickup systems.
One more thing that makes them better is the cutaway body shape which allows guitarists to play the high frets easier. This is particularly important for more advanced players that like to play on those frets.
High-end acoustic guitars
Acoustic guitars over $1,500 are usually artisan-made or special models. For these guitars, the wood is selected with great care, treated, aged and cured and most importantly, the whole guitar is made by hand. An experienced player is capable of sensing the difference in sound, and the quality craftsmanship.
The design is also a more complicated one, with the imagination of the creator being the only limit. Because most acoustic guitars get a mellower, sweeter sound as they age, they become better. That is why older quality guitars have a higher price. So if you have an old instrument that is finely crafted, make sure to keep it in good shape.
Collectible acoustic guitars are those that have been played, owned or signed by well-known artists and that is why they are highly valued. Some people spend a lot of money on them when these guitars get auctioned.
Should you get an electric guitar?
Electric guitars can be affordable and getting a good one shouldn’t require you to spend too much money. You can find decent electric guitars for $130 and you can even get essential accessories like an amp, cables, and picks.
But it’s better to get a slightly more expensive electric guitar if you want to play it for a long time. Those models that offer too many accessories often don’t have the quality needed and can get damaged quickly. It’s advisable that you spend at least $230 for a guitar and make sure it’s from a brand that has a history of making instruments.
After you find the guitar you like you also need to purchase an amp if you want to get any sound out of it. When discussing amps, you can find many different models for many different prices. You can expect to pay anything from $50 to $800 for one. It all depends on what you want to obtain, and how much you’re willing to invest in the quality of your sound.
There are big amplifiers that are better suited for stage performances and they are usually more expensive. But most of the times you don’t need them, especially because when performing live it’s better to have your guitar plugged into a pedal board and not an amp. You shouldn’t go too cheap on amps though. If you find something below $80, that amp’s sound is probably terrible.
You will also need other accessories when buying an electric guitar, so be prepared to spend some money on accessories too. Most of the times you need a guitar case to protect it, a strap so you can hold it, and if you want to upgrade the pickups you need to invest in that too.
Remember that you can always find good deals if you’re looking to buy second-hand. Be on the lookout for the model you want, maybe someone wants to sell it. You will be surprised to find quality electric guitars for as little as $50. Of course, they might have some signs of wear, but some people like that.
Probably the safest choice for a beginner is to buy a starter pack. Most guitarists start like that. You don’t need a great guitar to learn how to play, but you do need the accessories. Acoustic packages cost less than electric guitar ones and that is because they don’t need an amp included.
When you get a starter pack you have everything you need and can start playing immediately. A quality setup should be worth $200 or so. The price range is an indicator of the quality of the instrument. Of course, you won’t get professional guitars in these packs, but they offer reliability.
You always need to pay attention to the manufacturer and never buy from unknown brands, even though the deal seems good.
When it comes to classical guitars especially, the world of beginner guitars is a treacherous one, with many manufacturers trying to trick you into buying something expensive when you shouldn’t. That is why you need to know something about this market.
The first instinct is to go online, but when looking at classical guitars on websites you find a variety of prices that is too wide to help you make an idea. You will see that a classical guitar can range from $50 to $5000 online.
You should know that for a price of around $150 you can find a guitar that is good enough. The bad thing about buying from an online retailer or from a person reselling his guitar online is the fact that you don’t get to actually see the instrument and hear it. This is where a great piece of advice comes into play – if you don’t already know how the model you are buying should feel or sound, don’t buy it online.
If you know how a guitar should be, when you get it home you already have some expectations from it and you won’t be pleased if the expectations aren’t met. As a result, the old-fashioned way is to buy something from a physical store. Because you can find such stores in almost any city, you have a great chance of finding a gem.
Furthermore, you can ask the shop owner for advice because he or she would probably love to help you with that. A good owner or staff member will be able to guide you through everything you need to know, especially if you’re a beginner. They’ll discuss the type of wood with you, the construction of the fingerboard and many others.
What’s even better, you can get a guitar in the store for similar prices compared to the internet. For around $100 to $150 you can find a decent classical guitar for beginners. And you also get some free advice on it.
What about used guitars?
Of course, there are some of us that have a tighter budget but still want a guitar. These unlucky players can find good deals on websites like Craigslist where you can easily find all sorts of instruments for a lower price. A decent classical guitar, for example, can cost you about $50. Of course, you will still need to pay attention to how good the guitar is and the condition it has.
When buying second hand from websites, try to go on those sites that let you meet the seller face to face. You should have the chance to see the object before purchasing it. This will save you time and possibly money.
There are also music stores that sell used and refurbished guitars. Although most of the time these guitars have some small issues, they shouldn’t be overlooked, especially because they can have a very interesting history. This might be the best solution for those looking for a good guitar at a really low price of $50 or less.
What’s even better for a beginner is the fact that a used guitar can be easier to play thanks to it already being played previously by someone else. However, always remember to test such a guitar, especially its neck.
Sometimes you might have to recondition some instruments you get online, but if you’re a connoisseur, it’s a worthy thing to do. But then again, there are people that don’t know what to look for, and the advice for them would be to ask a friend or someone that knows more about guitars. See if they can offer their opinion to help you make the right decision.
Another thing that you might want to do is visit a luthier. This might get more money out of your pocket, something around $300 to $500 for a good guitar, but at least you know that you have something handworked, unique, and a guitar that suits your style. With the possibility to customize the guitar as you wish, why not give it a try?
Electric guitar brands
Another thing to look at when buying a guitar is the brand it is made by. When it comes to the world of electric guitars there are two main competitors on the big stage. These are Gibson (known for their Les Paul guitars) and Fender (for the Stratocaster models). They are recognized as the brands that produce the best electric guitars, and as a result, their models cost a bit more.
If you want to buy a Les Paul you will be paying at least $700 for it and it can go up to prices exceeding $2,000 for a good model. These guitars come with everything you need from quality woods to great harmonics and hardware. With the Fenders, you might expect to pay more than $600 for a decent model, while the best ones will still pull out $2,000 or more out of your pocket.
PRS (Paul Reed Smith) is also a pretty popular brand, and its prices are similar to the Gibson and Fender models. Fortunately for those looking for something a bit cheaper, there are smaller brands controlled by these giants that can offer guitars at a more affordable price.
Gibson controls the Epiphone company, which makes guitars priced around $150 to $500. Furthermore, there is another brand called Ibanez that offers quality electric guitars for beginners for around $150 to $300.
Acoustic guitar brands
When it comes to these guitars there are two main players here as well – the brands Martin and Taylor. One of the cheapest Taylor acoustic guitars can be purchased at around $500, while some of their more expensive models will cost a whopping $4,000. Martin models tend to be in the same price range.
If you’re a beginner and don’t want to spend all that on a guitar, you can look for a Rogue acoustic guitar, which can be usually bought for as little as $50, although you can get better guitars for up to $150 from them.